Villagers protest against hydel project in Ukhand’s Pithoragarh, fear Joshimath-like crisis

Residents of 14 villages of Darma valley have risen in protest against a proposed 165 MW hydro-electricity project in the area fearing Joshimath-like crisis

Representative image
Representative image


Residents of 14 villages of Darma valley in Pithoragarh have risen in protest against a proposed 165 MW hydro-electricity project in the area fearing that its construction will push them into the throes of a Joshimath-like crisis.

Shouting solgans, the residents of these villages staged a long procession on Monday evening and submitted a memorandum to the SDM, demanding immediate scrapping of the Bokang-Bailing hydro-electricity project.

It is a 165 MW run-of-the-river scheme proposed in Dhauli Ganga river in Darma valley. To be constructed by the THDC, it is in survey stage at present.

"If it gets constructed, at least five villages including Tidang, Dhakar, Goo, Philam and Bon will have to be shifted as they will develop cracks like the ones in Joshimath," said Puran Singh Gwal, president of Darma Sangharsh Samiti, the body that organised the protect march.

"Explosives that will be used to make the large tunnels of the project will damage the foundations of the villages," he said.

The project will also destroy the culture of the Rung tribe protected for centuries by the residents of these villages, he said.

Opposing mega projects in the Himalayan region as they cause irreparable damage to its fragile ecology, Gwal said subsidence-hit Joshimath is a burning example of this.

"On the one hand the government asks people to settle in border regions and on the other hand creates circumstances which make the process difficult by introducing landslide generating projects in highly sensitive Himalayan valleys." said Anju Rongkali, state president of Gram Pradhan Sangathan, and a local resident.

Besides the Darma Sangharsh Samiti, Gram Pradhan Sangathan from Vyas, Chaudas, all Zilla Panchayat and BDC members and the Dharchula Vyapar Sangh took part in the protest, claimed the organisers.

"Darma valley is well known for its glaciers - the source of rivers like the Dhauli Ganga. After explosives are used to construct tunnels and the dam of the project, the precious glaciers will be depleted due to disturbance of ecological pattern,” Roop Singh Titiyal, a villager from Darma valley said.

The Joshimath Bachao Sangharsh Samiti, which is spearheading an agitation in the subsidence-hit town, has been alleging that the NTPC's Tapovan-Vishnugad hydel project has led to this kind of situation there. 

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